The Wild Geese
As his wife left for church one morning the man said: “The story of Christ is nonsense! Why would God lower himself to come to earth as a man? That’s ridiculous!”
Later that day, during a snowstorm, there were a number of loud thumps against the window. Venturing outside, the man saw a flock of wild geese in his field. Flying south for the winter, they had been caught in the storm, and were now lost and stranded on his farm with no shelter. They just flapped their wings and flew around, blindly and aimlessly.
The man wanted to help the geese and knew his barn would be a safe place for them, so he opened the barn doors, hoping they would go inside. But the geese didn’t notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. He tried to entice them into the barn by making a trail of bread to the barn. They didn’t understand. He got behind them and tried to shoo them towards the barn, but they just scattered in every direction. Nothing he did could get them to the safety of the barn.
He exclaimed, “Why don’t they follow me?” Then he realized that they wouldn’t follow a human. “If only I were a goose,” he thought, “then I could save them.” So he went into the barn and got one of his own geese. He circled behind the flock of wild geese and released it. His goose flew through the flock, calling them, and they followed it straight into the safety of the barn.
His earlier words replayed in his mind: “If only I were a goose, then I could save them!” Then he thought about what he had said to his wife earlier: “Why would God want to be like us?” Suddenly it all made sense. God sends his sons, in human form, so they can show us the way back to him and save us from the sins of the world.
We are like those geese, lost and aimlessly flapping about in the creation. The stormy weather is indicative of our lives. One minute we are sailing happily along, and the next we are turned upside down and we find ourselves being battered by a fierce blizzard.
We are powerless to act against these storms, but if we heed the Master’s advice, then during good weather we will persistently knock at the door to the sanctuary of our inner barn. But we don’t listen. We grow complacent and think the blizzard is never going to come. But the storm is on its way and if we do not prepare for it, we will be caught unprotected and exposed, with the inner doors still tightly closed. And then, when the storms of life do come, like the geese we flap around aimlessly. We don’t seem to understand the importance of opening the door and reaching the safe haven within.
By thumping into the window, the geese unknowingly sent out a cry for help, a cry that alerted the man to their plight. Similarly, many people call to God for help. When faced with insurmountable obstacles we feel we no longer have the ability to cope, and we search for something that will give us hope and belief. Something or someone that we can hold on to.
But it is not necessarily a personal disaster that brings one to the path, or points one towards God. Sometimes our longing for him is so great that it becomes unbearable, and our inner pain itself begins to send out the signal. One thing is certain: when the Lord hears our cry he responds by putting us in touch with a true Master. The Master listens for the thumps against the window – the indications that we are lost in the blizzard and are desperately trying to find our way.
The Lord sends his sons, the living Masters, to this creation for the sole purpose of helping us and guiding us. They teach us both how and why to stop our aimless circling around in the creation. In Light on Sant Mat, Maharaj Charan Singh explains the Master’s purpose:
Saints are men of God who come here on a mission of mercy, to lead suffering humanity back to the feet of God. That is their only mission in life.
As the autumn turns to winter, the geese begin their journey, using the heavens and the sun as navigational markers. Attuned to the path of light they follow, they know the direction they have to take and fly a route which leads them to the warmth of the sun. As the geese know instinctively to fly south for the winter in order to survive, so is there something inside us which longs for permanence and knows about eternity. There is an inherent urge in us to search for God – it’s the natural pull of our soul towards the Lord.
As we tire of the world and our burdens, we need to change our direction, as we learn to navigate the path towards the radiant light. An inner call challenges us to find the path. When the Master connects with us he points us in the right direction. He reassures us and we are captivated by him. We trust him, not just his teachings and his physical form – something in us recognizes him and the melody of his call.
The goose from the barn knew the route back to safety, therefore it could act as a guide to the wild geese. They identified with him, they recognized his call and they chose to follow him. Similarly, we identify with the physical form of our Master; his teachings appeal to us and we commit to follow his flight path to eternity.
The Master is our friend, our teacher, our divine guide and incomparable example. His influence touches the highest recesses of our hearts as he uplifts our consciousness. He awakens in us the possibility of genuine knowledge of God as he subtly draws us towards him by his powerful vibration of love. Seeing the harmony and perfect balance of such a person, we become inspired to follow him.
There are so many complex spiritual concepts and theories in this world, that without a living example in front of us that, like the geese in the blizzard, we would get lost and confused; whereas a living example in the beautiful form of the Master can point us straight to our goal.
Charmed by the physical beauty of the Master we begin to love his earthly persona because we can relate to it. But we have little understanding of what he truly is because the mind cannot comprehend it. We accept him as our Master despite not having experienced what that means.
The wild geese surrendered completely to the call of the man’s goose and followed it to safety. Similarly, we must develop the same trust in the Master and surrender to his will, following his instructions, if we are to make progress on this spiritual path. He is our connection with the Shabd and he opens the doors into a world we may otherwise never know. It is therefore in our best interest to do what he asks.
It is not only the physical form or personality of the Master which captivates us; it is something much more. When we are with him we get a hint of what it is we long for – what we are striving for. We certainly become aware of something special about him – that eternal something that is the real Master. This is the Shabd that draws us, and it is the Shabd form that we unknowingly recognize and love.
We have no understanding of the Master and, indeed, all spiritual experience is beyond our intellectual grasp. It is only by great good fortune and grace that we come to know him, and slowly begin to realize and appreciate the importance of the living Master and the extent of the gift we have been given.
The man in our story knew if he could get the geese to the safety of the barn, they would survive the storm. He persevered because he had made it his mission to save them. Similarly, the Master never gives up on us. He never tires of helping us, encouraging us, and asking us to do our meditation. With proper practice we can open the inner door and follow the Master out of the blizzard of life to safety – but we must make it a priority in our lives.
The route from the field to the barn represents our movement from the external to the internal – the journey from aimless circling in the darkness of illusion to the light within. It is how we perform on this part of the journey that determines when and how we will reach the barn. If we keep the promises we made at the time of initiation then, through our meditation, we will turn inwards towards the radiant light.
There is nothing more precious than our meditation, because that is when we are closest to our Master. We meditate simply because we want to be with him. It is through our meditation that he inculcates in us a deeper love, that divine love with which he is infused and which we long for. Through our meditation he dispels our doubts – which vanish like the passing storm.
The flood of mystic love washes away all our dirt and filth; the storm of mystic bliss drives away all our doubt and suspicion; the sun of mystic knowledge dissipates all our delusion and darkness; nothing is left but the naked truth beaming in its own radiance, the absolute reality glowing in its own refulgence.
Mysticism, The Spiritual Path